You may have heard someone say “I have TMJ.” What they most likely mean is that they are suffering from a disorder of the TMJ — the temporomandibular joints. These TMJ, located on either side of your skull make it possible to open and close your mouth, working together whenever you chew, speak or swallow. Your TMJ is considered to include the various muscles and ligaments involved in these processes as well as the jaw bone itself. The TMJ also control the lower jaw — your mandible — as it moves forward, backward and side to side.
Each temporomandibular joint has a disc of cartilage between the ball and socket of the joint. This sponge-y disc supports the load while allowing your jaw to open wide and rotate or glide. Any issue that hinders this complicated system of muscles, ligaments, discs and bones from operating properly can be called a TMJ disorder. Dr. Melvin Benson of Integrated Dental Arts, a dental provider in Greeley, CO can diagnose and treat this problem to relieve the pain and stop the progression of dental issues that can accompany TMJ.
What Causes TMJ Disorders (TMD)?
Possible causes of TMJ disorders include:
- Alignment of jaw and teeth
- Teeth grinding due to stress
How is TMJ Diagnosed?
Dr. Benson must first examine the patient to diagnose the problem before treatment can begin. A dental examination for TMJ should include checking the joints and muscles of the jaw for tenderness, clicking, popping or difficulty of motion.
Depending on the severity of the issue, Integrated Dental Arts may refer you to a physician or a dental specialist for more advanced treatment.
How is TMJ Treated?
For routine cases, there are several methods of treatment available for TMJ disorders. The step-by-step plan below allows you to try these simple “home remedies” on your own before moving on to more involved treatment. These steps, promoting a “less is more” approach for the treatment of TMJ disorders, include:
- Eating softer foods
- Avoiding chewing gum and biting your nails
- Applying heat packs to the pain
- Practicing relaxation techniques to alleviate tension in the jaw, including meditation or biofeedback.
If your symptoms are more severe, the following treatments may be recommended by your Integrated Dental Arts dentist:
- Exercises to strengthen your jaw muscles
- Medications prescribed by your dentist; such as anxiety medications, muscle relaxants, analgesics, anti-inflammatory
- A mouth guard or bite plate to reduce clenching or grinding of teeth.
In some cases, an uneven bite may need correcting by adjusting or reshaping some teeth. Orthodontic treatment may even be recommended if necessary. Your Integrated Dental Arts dentist can suggest the most appropriate treatment based on the determined cause. If you are in the Greeley, CO area and think you may be suffering from TMJ disorder, any other dental ailment or just need a cleaning or consultation, please call 970.281.5972 to schedule with Integrated Dental Arts or schedule with us online.